Films about famous writers and or poets are nothing new in Hollywood. There have been many of them in the long history of the film business. Some of them are more straightforward than others, and some of them are more creative. Raven’s Hollow, another Shudder original film, is one of the more visionary films about a writer/poet inspired by the legendary works of Edgar Alan Poe.
Edgar Poe (William Mosely) and four of his fellow West Point cadets are traveling by horseback while on a training mission in upstate New York when they come across a dead body tied to a symbol in the form of branches. They decide to take the body down and try to find out where it comes from. They eventually come across a town called Raven’s Hollow. What happens next is quite disturbing.
Poe’s works have dealt with ravens, haunted houses, and other macabre iconography. It makes sense that this film deals with all of that and much more. The scares are few and far between, but the horror doesn’t end at the sight of one dead body. A haunted town and creepy characters leave nothing to the imagination. Just starting this film is asking viewers to be scared and creeped out. It’s that kind of film.
The writer/director Christopher Hatton leans heavily on Poe’s works but creates an atmosphere that asks viewers to believe a lot. The characters are played by some good character actors, such as Kate Dickle (Game of Thrones), David Hayman (Blinded by the Light), and Oberon K. A. Adjepong (The Many Saints of Newark) bring a mayor of believability to a pretty spooky tale of despair.
This film isn’t anything new, but it still has a look and feel that makes it believable that this story existed or, rather, inspired Poe to write his poems. The town looked very authentic, and the clothes and hairstyles matched that of a late colonial era, around the 1800s. The clapboard roofs and walls were well made and completely drew me into this darkly haunted town. All the pieces were there to make me feel this could be a film worth seeing. Unfortunately, all the pieces didn’t come together in the end.
I’m a sucker for a good period piece mixed with a horror vibe. Even throw in a story inspired by true events, and I’m hooked. The whole vibe of this film seemed right up my alley, but it didn’t seem to work in the end. The acting was good, the writing was fine, and the cinematography and set production were on par with many other similar films. But in the end, I just wasn’t interested in the characters enough to care about them more. That was the downfall of this Poe story.
2 1/2 stars
Dan Skip Allen
Sean Boelman Founder/EIC disappointment media